Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Reading the chapter “healing prayer” in Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (Lauren Winner) reminded me of my experiences with it. We had it at least quarterly in chapel at the seminary and I think it was then that the laying on of hands started to make me cry. (I looked at a post on the subject from 9 years ago and apparently, it’s made me cry to have the laying on of hands since college. Huh. Not all that surprising.) Quoting the last entry I did regarding it, “I don’t know why but it moves me to tears when people lay hands and pray for me. It might be that I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable, it might be the Spirit within me interceding because I have to words, or it could just be that I understand the power of what is going on.”
The other thing about my experiences with healing prayer is that it comes into my life during those times in which I desperately need it because I am either seriously ill or seriously depressed. (Truthfully, those two are usually pretty intertwined because a serious illness will toss me into depression and depression usually knocks out my immune system and exacerbates an illness.) During those times, I retreat more inward than I do normally (and that is saying something) and it is during those times that I need the physicality of healing prayer and people praying while laying hands on me to “bring me out” or at least bring me outward to my normal level of introversion.
I also feel like this is one of those things where it’s an “all or nothing” approach. You have those of a Pentecostal persuasion who are slain in the Spirit and then you have those like the people at Metanoia who are German Lutheran in background and are a bit put off by this kind of thing. I think the next time I would probably experience something like this is whenever I meet with the Anglican/Episcopal priest with whom I will hopefully be doing Confession this month — at least I’m hoping for something like that.